The goat buyback programme is currently in its sixth month, reports The Daily Herald.
For 2014 a total of approximately 1,706 pounds of goat meat was collected according to the Department of Agriculture on Saba. So far, a total of 1,460 pounds of goat meat is bought up for 2015, which amounts to a total of 3,166 pounds of goat meat. With an estimated weight of an average goat being between 20 and 30 pounds, approximately 125 goats have been killed and sold to the Saba Government since the start of the programme in November last year. In most circumstances, US $5 per pound has been paid to the goat owners by the Department of Agriculture for the meat.
Recently a meeting was held at the Government Building in The Bottom to address the current goat situation on Saba. The meeting was attended by, amongst others, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Island Secretary Wim van Twuijver, together with Cassandra Holm and Randall Johnson. The Government will give goat owners until August this year to minimize the problems with free roaming goats.
Also the local Government, along with the Department of Agriculture, has promised to provide milk for the young goats. More and more young goats are found abandoned and are being adopted by concerned Sabans, these goats have to be bottle-fed every few hours.
Because of the current drought, goats are roaming more in the populated areas of Saba, which in turn creates more disturbances. In some cases, goat owners don’t take enough responsibility for their livestock which leads to severe weight loss and death.
Acting island veterinary technician and president of Saba Foundation Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SabaFPCA) Cassandra Holm has mixed feelings on the current dry spell. “On one hand I feel bad for the livestock and their owners, but on the other hand people’s properties get ruined as well. Currently many goats are dying because of the drought and goats tend to drink seawater which kills them as well”, Holm said to The Daily Herald.
The SabaFPCA is currently trying to collect funds for the realisation of a small functioning animal shelter and clinic on Saba. This way more medical procedures on animals can be done locally under better and more professional conditions. Fewer animals would have to be sent to Sint Maarten, which would reduce cost significantly, according to Holm.
Project leader of the buy-back programme and Department Head Randall Johnson said he is pleased with the results of the programme thus far and hopes that the programme will introduce more agriculture on the island. “How nice would it be to have mango, star fruit and orange trees growing everywhere; tourists and locals could enjoy their fruits?” Johnson told The Daily Herald.
In November 2014, goat owners on Saba were informed about the Island Government’s plan to commence with a goat buy-back programme, which aimed to reduce the number of roaming goats on the island. The programme, which is funded by the Dutch Government, financially compensates any goat owner for bringing in the meat of slaughtered goats. The buy-back programme is scheduled to end in August of this year. A law against free-roaming animals has been put in place in 1998 on Saba to decimate goat population.